Originally Posted by swiego
This would tell me that he makes a great pair of shoes, of which I have no doubt whatsoever. It would tell me that his shoes are better made than the ones I own, which is probable. It would tell me that he knows far more about shoes than most other people here, which is likely.
However, it wouldn't convince me that his business isn't about making a profit whereas the shoe factories are, which is what was insinuated.
I have worked at many factories in many industries, and I can tell you that the same passion for putting out a quality product exists in mass production facilities, so I don't think it's fair to ascribe different motives to the two. ("Bespoke is about quality, non-bespoke is about profit.") The handiwork actually exists at the factory in all that handmade machinery, handmade (or hand-coded as it were) automation and QC systems, and hand-tested materials. In fact one of the biggest problems I've struggled with is the lack of cost consciousness in a factory where people get so caught up in designing a new and cool material or a new and cool assembly or QC process that they don't think about how it would drive the overall product toward unprofitability.
Well, if you went to him, wore his shoes and compared them to others -- all with the various prices of things in mind -- you would have a good idea of the profit levels involved. Knowing what I knew about the cost of the materials he used and the amount of labor hours he put into them, I thought he was making a very low amount of profit. So low I felt I owed him a bottle of scotch.
I agree with you completely that there are factory owners who care about quality and that lots of handwork goes into making a factory or can even go into their products. And I'm sure it's possible that some craftsmen put profit above quality. So particular judgments need to be made. My point was simply that they can be made.
Originally Posted by DWFII
I would like to see...given that the gemming process is the same, given that the fundamental raw materials are near-as-nevermind the same, given that all else is superficial and subject to the vagaries of fashion and time...a breakdown of how the $1000.00 gemmed shoe is worth more than the $500.00 gemmed shoe. Or the $100.00 gemmed shoe.
The only company I know of that produces or has produced shoes in all three ranges is Alfred Sargent. Back when they made them, their Premier levels were about $250-350. They were made to the same standards as AE, Alden, C&J benchgrades, for example: full-grain calfskin, full leather insole, plastic heel and toe stiffeners, goodyear-welted, open-channeled soles, 8 or so stitches per inch, and almost all making done by machine.
Their current line of Exclusives retails for about $500 and are made with higher grade skins, leather heel and toe stiffeners, and oak bark, closed channeled, goodyear-welted soles, with 10 or so stitches per inch and are mostly machine made. Lasting is by machine but there's a lot of hand finishing. (Their closest competitor imho is C&J handgrades, which, acc. to the various French and Japanese deconstructions, are made very similarly but with plastic heel and toe stiffeners. They also sell for around $750 and are not made w/ the same amount of care. I've seen pairs that had the edges trimmed to where they cut into the stitches, for example.)
Current Handgrades retail for a bit over $1000 and they are are made with pretty much the same skins as Exclusives (iirc), leather heel and toe stiffeners, oak bark, closed channeled, goodyear-welted soles, 10-12 stitches per inch and are mostly handmade. They're bed lasted for example and left to conform to their lasts for several weeks. (EG is probably their closest competitor and they don't have quite the high level of hand finishing, nor do they have leather stiffeners, again acc. to deconstructions by the French and Japanese.)